In his book, Out of the Doghouse, Dr. Rob Weiss lists seven common behaviors cheaters engage in after their infidelity is uncovered that make the situation worse rather than better. One of these is putting the blame for the cheating on someone or something other than yourself.
While cheating, it’s possible you justified your actions with statements like:
- If my wife hadn’t gained twenty pounds after we had the kids, I’d still find her attractive and I wouldn’t be so interested in other women.
- If my husband wasn’t such a cold fish, I wouldn’t be searching for hot sex elsewhere.
- My spouse is more interested in work than our relationship. So how am I supposed to get my needs met?
Unfortunately, this tendency toward externalizing blame typically continues even after your cheating is discovered. You may find yourself saying things to your betrayed partner like:
- The way you’re acting, who could blame me if I went out and cheated again? When will you just let this go so we can move on with our lives?
- Why are you so upset when I’ve told you a hundred times that it was only meaningless sex? You just don’t seem to hear me when I tell you that I love only you.
- You’re so controlling now, watching every move I make. I feel like I’m five years old and you’re my mother. You’re driving me crazy and pushing me away with all of this insanity.
What cheaters tend to forget in the heat of the moment, especially when their partner is expressing anger or some other strong emotion, is that their choice to cheat was theirs and theirs alone. Nothing your partner did or did not do forced you into cheating. You decided to cheat, and now you must accept responsibility for what you’ve done. Your partner is in pain and behaving exactly the way a traumatized partner typically behaves. So blaming your partner for your current predicament is ridiculous. No matter how much weight was gained, no matter how little sex was had, no matter how moody or kid-focused your partner has been, your partner did not make you cheat. Cheating was your choice, not your partner’s.
This means that when your partner can’t let go of the anger, you can’t say, “If you would just forgive me, then everything would get better.” First, that’s not true. Second, a statement like that, in which you’re shifting blame onto your partner, will either make your partner angrier, or it will further traumatize and distance your partner. It’s like getting whistled for an obvious yellow card foul in soccer, screaming at the referee about it, and then getting another yellow card, which means you’ve now got an automatic ejection. You’ve gone from bad to worse, getting yourself tossed from the match because you blamed the wrong person, who rightfully took offense. In short, blaming your significant other for your decisions is a very bad idea if you want to heal your relationship.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with sex, porn, or substance/sex addiction, help is available. Seeking Integrity offers inpatient treatment for sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts, as well as low-cost online workgroups. At the same time, SexandRelationshipHealing.com offers a variety of free webinars and drop-in discussion groups, podcasts, and more.